I was so thankful for the a nice warm place and the comfort of a home to recover my from the treacherous adventure yesterday. I was treated to multiple cups of coffee and a hearty mexican feast which is extremely rare in this part of the world.
I expressed my appreciation to my hosts and let them know that I wanted to get another early start. My goal was to get home before dark and I was unsure how many times I would have to stop on my last leg. I retired to bed early and prayed for a better experience the next day.
I woke early in the morning and found that my hosts were already awake and were in the middle of their family devotions. They offered me a cup of coffee and a freshly baked banana and chocolate chip muffin. I listened as they finished their time studying scripture, and was deeply touched by their prayers for my journey home and my family. The outpouring of their hospitality and care for me is a testimonial to the depth of their faith in Jesus’ teachings and their love for others. You can’t not help but be positively affected by a family like that.
I spent 15 minutes or so weatherproofing myself. I put on every article of clothing I had brought until I thought I might not be able to bend my arms and legs. In addition my hosts supplied me with instant hot pads which are suppose to provide heat for at least 6 hours. I filled my pockets with the heat packets and found myself actually starting to sweat. It was the last time I sweat the rest of the day.
I went outside and I was disappointed to find that the bitter cold morning air had brought a heavy frost that had descended on my bike. Of course, I had forgotten about the frost, and I didn’t have anything to scrape the frost from my seat, or mirrors or tachometer and speedometer. In hindsight I shouldn’t have covered the bike, but honestly it was the last thing I was thinking about when I arrived last night. I scratched the frost with my gloves, but since the sun was starting to poke through the clouds I figured that I would just let the heat from the engine and the sun finish the job for me.
The day started with blue skies and bright sunshine. Finally, I would get a comfortable ride and perhaps get to see some scenery that I missed the day before. As I was leaving Ankara I noticed a thick fog descending once again on my path. The fog wasn’t the only issue the temperatures were starting to drop and the snow piled on the side of the highway was getting deeper and deeper. It was obvious that this was going to be another long day.
The fog was much more dense, and the extreme cold temperatures instantly froze to my helmet’s visor. I could use my gloves at first to scrape the ice from my visor, but soon my gloves were coated with ice, and it became impossible see where I was going. Fortunately, my helmet has a built-in flip down sun visor. I opened my normal visor, and used my sun visor to block the wind and cold. This worked for about 10 minutes until the sun visor also began to freeze and once again I was nearly riding blind. My last option was to open all my visors and just hope that my eyeballs wouldn’t freeze. For the next 45 minutes I rode without a visor just the wind in the face. I desperately waited for a good place to pull off the road to clear my helmet and to warm myself. The whole time was thinking about the movie “Dumb and Dumber” when they decided to ride a scooter to Colorado in the winter, my face like Jim Carrey’s with road salt and snot frozen to my face. I made it to Kırıkkale and stopped at the first gas station finally able to warm my face and unthaw my helmet.
After leaving the gas station I was pleased that one of the unpleasantries had left. The fog has finally left, but the bitter cold remained. I had two decisions, return the way I came through the freezing fog back to Ankara and wait for more favorable conditions, or just keep going. At this point I only had 480 km left (290 miles). I decided to push on. I knew if I could reach Samsun and the Black Sea coast the weather would be much warmer, and I could make it. I was more determined, and so I tucked behind the windscreen and open up the throttle as much as I could. I was going to get to the coast as fast as the motorcycle cold take me. No longer was I concerned about documenting my journey. I just wanted to get home.
Considering the bone chilling cold, I made very good time. I only needed to stop one more time to refresh and warm up. I reached the Black Sea by about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and I was thankful to find that the temperature was a warm 17 degrees (62 degrees F). After riding for days in temperatures well below freezing, the warm air felt like summer. I even pulled over to remove some of my layers. Racing home, I finally made it before the sunset. Walking in door, I collapsed briefly on the floor in exhaustion but I was also filled with the adrenaline of accomplishing something exciting and challenging. I think next time I will wait for the Spring.